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2008-2009 Common Experience Theme

Civic Responsibility and the Legacy of LBJ

"The noblest search is the search for excellence."
— Lyndon B. Johnson, 36th President of the United States
Texas State University Class of 1930

August 27, 2008, marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of Lyndon Baines Johnson, 36th President of the United States and the most distinguished alumnus of what is now Texas State University-San Marcos. A fitting commemoration of this centennial is a year-long celebration of LBJ’s legacy. Such celebration of his life includes his devotion to public service and the contributions he made that continue to have enormous impact on nearly every aspect of American society and modern American life. This tribute not only honors LBJ but also serves as an inspiration to our students, faculty, and the community to live meaningful lives, to be actively involved in public service, and to leave—by our words and deeds—a legacy that will have a positive impact on our world.

Lyndon B. Johnson was not merely the President of the United States during the turbulent 1960s; he was also commander-in-chief at the time of the most unpopular war in American history and the architect of the "Great Society," which affected the lives of more Americans, black and white, than any president since Abraham Lincoln. This mixed legacy still haunts the American nation. A critical examination of this legacy, 100 years after his birth and nearly 40 years after his leaving office, should be rewarding to the entire Texas State community.

Almost every area of academic study was affected or influenced by Johnson’s policies. Some examples:

  • Education: Many, if not most, of the federal government’s policies toward education were drafted during Johnson’s administration. The Higher Education Act was signed on this campus in 1965.
  • Science: The Johnson administration made outstanding contributions to both theoretical and applied science, most notably the space program.
  • Fine Arts: The National Endowment for the Arts, public television, and other programs brought unprecedented federal support for creative activity.
  • Health: The creation of Medicare and Medicaid were the most significant improvements to the welfare of older and impoverished Americans since the creation of Social Security in the 1930s.
  • Liberal Arts: The National Endowment for the Humanities, the War on Poverty, the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 are just some of the programs and policies that transformed not only long-held beliefs but also long-lasting practices in American life.

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President Lyndon B. Johnson
President Lyndon B. Johnson